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Glaucoma is a common eye condition, caused by fluid build-up in the eye, which most often affects those in their 60’s, 70s or 80s, but also occurs in younger people.

What is glaucoma?

There are different types of glaucoma:

  • Primary open angle glaucoma – this is the most common type and can occur with either high or normal eye pressure
  • Primary angle closure glaucoma – where the iris blocks the drainage channels and can be gradual or sudden. When it is sudden it is called: Acute angle closure– a less common type, where drainage channels in the eye suddenly become blocked
  • Secondary glaucoma – this occurs because of a different underlying condition in the eye

What are the symptoms of glaucoma?

Generally, in its early stages, glaucoma, especially primary open angle glaucoma, doesn’t present any symptoms. However, as the condition progresses, which often takes several years, you may start to notice issues with your peripheral vision.

If you have acute angle closure, its sudden onset can have symptoms including:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Redness in the eyes
  • Pain or tenderness in the eyes
  • Headache
  • Blurry vision
  • Rings or haloes appear around lights

What causes glaucoma?

Glaucoma is often caused by raised pressure in the eye but many people (up to half) have normal pressure, but it isn’t known why some people develop it. Some risks factors for glaucoma include:

  • Family history/genetics
  • Old age
  • Ethnicity
  • Underlying medical conditions (e.g. diabetes)
  • Previous eye injuries or trauma
  • High eye pressure
  • Thin corneas
  • Certain medications

How is glaucoma diagnosed?

If you have any of the symptoms listed above, you should speak to your consultant.

At your appointment, your consultant will enquire about your medical history and conduct an examination of your eyes.

To confirm a diagnosis of glaucoma, they may also ask that you undergo further tests, including:

  • Eye pressure tests
  • Vision tests
  • Corneal thickness tests
  • Nerve damage tests
  • Drainage angle tests

How is glaucoma treated?

The treatment for glaucoma will depend upon its severity. Treatment options for glaucoma include:

  • Eye drops
  • Laser treatment
  • Surgery

You and your consultant can discuss which treatment will be best for you.

If you’re unsure what treatment you should go for, or the above treatments don’t work for you, our team of expert specialists are here to help.

This content has been checked and approved by

Professor Gus Gazzard  ›

Professor Gus Gazzard is a London-based Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon and leading researcher in eye care.

Find your specialist in glaucoma at King Edward VII's Hospital

If you suspect you have glaucoma and you’re seeking an expert opinion, you can find the UK’s leading ophthalmic specialists here at King Edward VII’s Hospital. Our consultants are hand-picked for you, making it easy to access the best possible care.

Professor Gus Gazzard  ›
Special interests include:
Cataract (+ 1) more
Professor Nicholas Strouthidis  ›
Special interests include:
Cataract surgery (+ 1) more
Professor David O'Brart  ›
Special interests include:
Cataract surgery (+ 4) more

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